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Lei Jun says Apple is still the benchmark

Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi unveiled its new flagship 13 series on Sunday, with founder Lei Jun pledging “courage and determination” to keep up the fight with Apple’s new iPhone models.

The new Xiaomi 13 and Xiaomi 13 Pro, priced from 3,999 yuan (US$571) and 4,999 yuan respectively, are powered by the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 mobile chip processor, which is made by US fabless chip designer Qualcomm. The new models compare with the iPhone 14 base price of 5,999 yuan and the iPhone 14 Plus starting price of 6,999 yuan.

Lei, who is sometimes regarded as China’s answer to the late Steve Jobs, said at the launch ceremony that Xiaomi continues to see Apple’s iPhone as its main competitor and benchmark.

“It is the starting point, from which we may have the chance to exceed the iPhone in future,” Lei said. “No matter if it is software or hardware, we regard the iPhone as the benchmark.”

Xiaomi is looking for new products to boost sales after third-quarter revenue fell 9.7 per cent year-on-year to 70.47 billion yuan while net profit dropped 59 per cent to 2.12 billion yuan.

Xiaomi, like many Chinese smartphone brands, relies on US chip makers to improve the performance of its phones. The latest 4-nanometre flagship processor from Qualcomm is said to improve overall performance by 37 per cent while reducing power consumption by 47 per cent.

Xiaomi’s new models come as analysts gauge potential impact from the latest US trade restrictions on China, which blocked sales of both on-the-shelf advanced chips and certain chipmaking tools to mainland-based companies.

Xiaomi’s president Wang Xiang said during its third-quarter earnings conference call last month that the latest US chip controls had no impact on the company, and that it is focused on reducing high inventory in the current quarter so that levels return to healthy levels in the first quarter next year.

Xiaomi shipped 9 million smartphone units in the third quarter, giving it a 13 per cent market share in mainland China. Xiaomi ranked 5th in the country after Vivo, Oppo, Honor and Apple, Canalys data showed.

During Sunday’s event, Xiaomi also launched its Watch S2 smartwatch and Buds 4 wireless earbuds. The launch had been postponed from December 1 due to a vigil for former Chinese president Jiang Zemin. South China Morning Post

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